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3 oct 2011

Role of health objectives in Physical Education (PE) French programs and projects: the example of vocational schools in Aquitaine

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Physical Education (PE) curricula for the professional degrees and baccalaureate (2002, 2009) underline the need for “the pursuit of well-being, good health and fitness, and building a positive body image contributing to self-esteem”.

Lucile Lafont, Katy Sauboi
Entidades(es): Faculté des Sciences du Sport
A Coruña, 26-29 de Octubre de 2010
ISBN: 978-84-614-9946-5
Palabras claves: health, PE projects


Physical Education (PE) curricula for the professional degrees and baccalaureate (2002, 2009) underline the need for “the pursuit of well-being, good health and fitness, and building a positive body image contributing to self-esteem”. The aim of this study was to show whether each PE project in vocational high school (VHS) took into account the context and characteristics of the pupils of VHS in Aquitaine County. The main indicators to explore implementation of health objectives were: place of cultural competence n°5 (CC5) and methodological competence n°3 (CM3), choice of Physical and sport activities (PSA), and analysis of students’ profiles.  There was an effect of cultural & geographical context in the actions proposed. Some differences between departments can be observed. For example, the department number 64 (Basque country) gives more often “no response” to questions related to health objectives. Second, in the VHS which accurately document the profiles of students (motivations etc), CC5, CM3 and Physical & Sport Activities (PSA) related to health take more importance. Overall, the more pupils’ characteristics were actively described, the more the teaching and learning seem adjusted to the social and cultural development of the pupils (It was the case for Landes and Lot et Garonne departments).


In the twentieth century definitions of health changed from a biological model to a broader meaning. We are witnessing a broadening of the concept of health in all dimensions of the individual in his relations with others and to society. Thus, according to World Health Organization (1946) “Health is a state of complete physical, moral and social development, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Moreover, Manderscheidt (1994) proposed to define health as “the ability to develop its physical intellectual and emotional resources, to adapt in order to live independently and be socially integrated. … . In this definition, reference is also made to balance and enjoying life. Today, health means a motor competence, an ability to learn and adapt. In psychological terms, health requires good self-esteem and low anxiety.

The social dimension of health refers to the ability of individuals to integrate actively in collective projects, and integrate into society. Health education aims at individuals and groups to help them in “wanting, knowing, being able to take free and responsible attitudes and behaviors to facilitate their health and group health ” (Mandersheidt, 1994).Today, the aim of health promotion is being developed within the French educational system. In this context, Physical Education (PE) is both an academic discipline among others, but also has a specific role by the involvement of a particular body. Thus, Tribalat (2005) states that “PE school subject must, by its specificity, contribute to the fight against risky behaviors, by developing a habit of regular positive physical practice.” One of the objectives of the PE is to aim for true “health habits” (Cogérino, 1997).

So in this sense we speak of “education for health in PE (C. Perrin, 2006). Today, PE programs reflect a renewed interest in health targets for both high schools (HS) and vocational schools (VS). Thus the aims, objectives, competencies defined in these programs refer explicitly to a concern for physical training and education for self-knowledge in relation to health. Programs for HS (2000, 2001) mention as an objective ‘Acquisition of skills and knowledge required to maintain physical life and development of health throughout life. Management of its physical life (MPL) by PE has led to some analysis. Proposals implementing the target were made by Cogérino (1997). Education Programs of PE for professional degrees and professional bachelor (2002, 2009) clarify the research objectives of well-being, good health and fitness, the construction of a positive image of the body that contributes to self-esteem and the importance of understanding the benefits of participation in regular physical activity throughout life.

Physical Education (PE) curricula for the professional degrees and baccalaureate (2002) underline the need for “the pursuit of well-being, good health and fitness, and building a positive body image contributing to self-esteem”. In terms of pedagogical contents, according to cultural competence No. 5 (CC5), it is “to guide and develop the effects of physical activity to maintain oneself.”
In terms of contents, according to cultural competence No. 5 (CC5), it is “To guide and develop the effects of activity for the maintenance of self” (included in the 2009 in terms of competence). With pleasure experienced, efforts and progress, students are able to understand the value of regular exercise throughout their all life. Also among the methodological skills, the third (CM3) aims to “observe, identify, analyze, assess the effects of the activity.” Many APSA contribute to the acquisition of this skill which is the register of self-knowledge in relation to the physical practice

Guiding and developing the effects of physical activity: a necessity.
The relationship between PE and health, however, appears closer in the VS than in the HS particularly through the encouragement to undertake interdisciplinary projects. Thus, in programs (2009) the legislature emphasizes explicitly on physical activity specifically focused on the development and maintenance of self: are defined the skills expected for running, long distance swimming, strength training, relaxation and STEP can also be mentioned, as aerobics (classified as an activity in an artistic dimension). In addition, disciplinary actions for prevention, information, health education are encouraged. Moreover, recent surveys in the Aquitaine region highlight the importance of the target characteristics and lifestyles of VS pupils (Courbebaisse Fauché and Lafont, 2006). For example, investigations on sedentary / physical activities show that students VS have a sedentary lifestyle.

The purpose of this paper is to present the analysis of simplified projects in PE in 2009 for all the public VS that fall under the aegis of the Aquitaine Regional Educational Authority. The question concerns programmatic choices in relation to the characteristics of the school and the more or less clarified analysis of students’ profiles in each public VS. It focuses on the role of cultural and methodological skills in relation to the management of one’s physical life that is to say the methodological competence No. 3 (CM3) and cultural competence No. 5 (CC5). What are the characteristics of VS and their projects in conjunction with Physical Activities and sports (PAS) specifically devoted to the goal of health and maintenance of self? What are the characteristics of VS which give prominence to CM3 and CC5? Can we observe some regularity in explaining differences in the draft programs and projects?


The corpus of the study is to present the analysis of simplified project contents (standardized documentation of the project abstracts written by the teaching staff of PE in each VS ). The analysis was conducted with the support of the PE teaching Inspectorate. It covered all the public VS in the academy of Bordeaux (or Aquitaine region).
The main indicators for exploring health implementations were selected. The following table presents them.

Table 1. Role of health objectives in Physical Education (PE) French programs and projects: the example of vocational schools in Aquitaine

Contenido disponible en el CD Colección Congresos nº 16


 Table n°1: main indicators for exploring health implementations

The objective was to analyze the specific features of each proposal taking account of the background of each VS and characteristics of the public concerned: pathways proposed, sex, representations developed about students. From reading the results, through an inductive process, data were categorized and some of the questions were recoded (group of classes with a too low frequency).
Terms of analysis: Data analysis was performed in 2 stages. The first was manual: the content analysis of simplified projects was based on the indicators listed above. Thereafter the data analysis (using indicators collected during the 1st stage and further categorization) consisted of flat tabulations, cross tabulations and multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) using the Sphinx software.


1st step:
Of the 61 vocational high schools analyzed, the average share of CC5 developed compared to other competences is 8.3% (the percentage was calculated from 5 cultural skills and 3 methodological skills). In contrast, the average share rises to 34.1% for CM3 (from 3 methodological skills).
The manual analysis of simplified project highlights heterogeneity of quantitative and qualitative responses. For example, a large number of VS did not accurately document the analysis of the context and students. Among these, some have not responded to the institutional control since they have not specified the PAS programmed or simply do not fill in the paper. Conversely, some institutions conducted a detailed analysis of specific characteristics and needs of students. What are the main results of this first stage of analysis?

In terms of effect of gender and vocational sector, we can note that the concept of fitness concerns more a male audience through bodybuilding. In contrast, well-being is further proposed to girls, notably through aerobics. As for feeling pleasure and confidence, these two terms seem to apply to both girls and boys. The other element that can be highlighted is the sporting context of the School. The more the city is dynamic in this area, the more actions are developed fitting with vocational school philosophy and demonstrating originality. For example, in Paul Bert vocational school in Bayonne, the Basque pelota APSA and rowing are proposed for the purpose of cultural awareness of students. Somehow, it also participates in the development of health in a broader sense.
The presence or absence of a boarding school may influence the implementations in health. In the VS that explain precisely the profiles of students by gender, level and / or the industry, the internship is a great asset for health development in students. This is indeed the case for eight vocational schools located in outlying rural areas (Thiviers Parentis Tarnos …).

The choice of PAS:
To develop cultural competence No. 5, the three PAS more often programmed are long-distance running, weight training and aerobics. Even if they depend on the public concerned (gender, representations of students …) and on different possibilities offered in the vocational school, they are offered in all departments of the Academy of Bordeaux. The PAS contributing to the acquisition of methodological skill No. 3 are athletic activities (javelin, hurdling …), activities of cooperation and opposition (basketball, rugby …) and outdoor activities (including orienteering).

Finally, in a broader perspective, it may be noted that the more students’ characteristics are accurate, the more implementations are appropriate. They fit into the social, economic and cultural development of vocational schools and student needs. VS with the characteristics of students in academics and sports are detailed, implement a number of actions that respond the best way possible to the expectations of students. Indeed, to develop health goals, teachers provide specific PAS who are in line with the social representations of students in PE. For example, in the hotel trade, industrial and tertiary VS of Arcachon where the characteristics of students are classified by gender and degree expected, the Rescue activity is present in the program. It is complemented by the opportunity for students to pass the AFPS (Attestation of First Aid Training). This illustration shows just how PAS and some specific actions can be influenced by the context of the school. In the above case, the proximity of the ocean is a springboard to carry out innovative activities in health. Students can immediately reinvest their knowledge and skills in everyday life. However, institutions whose simplified projects are generalist propose actions that do not fit completely in the background and characteristics of the VS. In this context, non-specific PAS occupy the vast majority of programming. The extra school initiatives  (as rescue degree) are more rare.

2nd step:

Quarrel flat led first to the inventory information in the projects. The distribution of VS by the Department of implantation is presented here.

Table 2. Role of health objectives in Physical Education (PE) French programs and projects: the example of vocational schools in Aquitaine

Contenido disponible en el CD Colección Congresos nº 16

Table n°2: number of schools for each department

Contenido disponible en el CD Colección Congresos nº 16

Figure n°1: part of CM3 X department              Figure n°2: part of CC5 X department

On Figures 1 and 2 of the cross-tabulations (department X CM3 CC5), we can observe differences in patterns according to the department particularly regarding non-response for the Department of Pyrenees Atlantiques (64). However, on the characteristics of establishments (department, size, boarders), taking the raw variables, none of the cross-tabulations show significant difference in Chi2 test for all variables. The only significant difference relates to the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64) which differs significantly from the combination of all other departments of the academy in terms of analyzing patterns and characteristics of students: the 64 VS significantly inform less often this topic, also when they do they rarely mention the motivations of students (in 2 / 15 only).

There are also significant links between student characteristics mentioned and the% of CC5 in the program of PAS. Thus, 7 establishments do not inform students’ characteristics, or the% CC5, unlike the VS which mention the disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to propose a significant % of CC5 (CC5> 21%). To confirm the previous analysis of multiple correspondence analyses (MCA) were performed

Multiple Correspondence analyses (MCA)

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Figure 3. Multiple Correspondence analyses (MCA), Variables: depart, board S, % of cc5, Part of CM3, PASspe (Physical Activity & Sport specific or not specific).

Contenido disponible en el CD Colección Congresos nº 16

Table 3.  Variables depart, board S, % of cc5, Part of CM3, PASspe.

The table 3 gives relative contributions positive and negative of the different answers.
MCA on department, % CC5, % CM3, boarding, health management specific PAS confirms previous cross tabulations : department 64 is opposed against strong % of CM3 (>40CM), Landes department (40) on the first axis and department 64 is « near » the « no answers »  to CM3, CC5, PASspe. On the axis 2, 64 has negative contributions as no CC5 (0CC5), no specific PAS and small % of CM3 (<20cm).

Contenido disponible en el CD Colección Congresos nº 16

Table 4. MCA Variables: depart, board S, % of cc5, Part of CM3, PASspe, typeprofGroup.

MCA confirms previous observations: positives relationships between pupils’ characteristics and opposition between these variables against department 64 and no answer to the 4 questions CC5, CM3, Specific PAS.

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Table 5. Variables: depart, board S, % of cc5, Part of CM3, PASspe, gender, typeprofGroup.

The tables 4 and 5 give, for the first 2 factorial axis, the relative contributions (positive and negative) of the variables. The inclusion of the gender of students in the analysis only slightly modifies the pattern of answers: we can observe that if the school receives a majority of boys, the various categories are less documented. Moreover, on the axis 2, the large% of CC5 is connected with a majority of girls in school.


Data analysis, manual and computer-aided allowed evaluating relations between PE and health in public vocational schools in the Aquitaine region. A few specificities emerge.
First, the response profiles of each department differ qualitatively. Some departments, it’s the case of 64 (the Basque Country and Bearn), are more resistant to national constraints of responses in terms of projects. Given the results of qualitative analysis, we can say that the Department 64 offers  “a panorama” excessively heterogeneous in terms of goals and implemented health-related: Some institutions have taken significant initiatives with the public of VS and offer various educational activities, PAS specific related to the analysis of needs and motivations. On the other hand, a significant number of VS (7 / 15) do not document the majority of sections of simplified projects.

From a more general point of view, some trends emerge from ACM for other departments. Thus, VS located in the Landes (40) more accurately analyze the characteristics of their audience. Moreover, the VS located in Lot et Garonne (47) offer specific PAS, health goal and larger % of CC5.
In terms of programming choices, some departments such as the Gironde and the Pyrenees Atlantiques (for some urban and coastal schools) optimally exploit their cultural and sports (close to the ocean for example), offering local sports as Basque pelota, the kayak or rowing. This cultural diversity is at the service of health education in and through the PE. These kinds of sports make the innovative development of a “healthy habit” quite original. The most relevant example concerns the Rescue. The cycle is completed through an outing to the ocean, thus pupils may have a first experience of coastal life. In parallel, students are trained in the Rescue Degree. The cultural openness through a new sport and social health objectives are both stated goals of such action.

Analysis of the different sports has to observe a diversity of responses in terms of display and competencies. However, processing instruction and teaching is specific to each institution or individual teacher. Observations of lessons have already been conducted (Lafont, Rubert, Vincent Morin, 2008) they enabled, especially in départments 64 and 33, to identify treatment related to the teaching MPL for non-specific PAS such as Volleyball or basketball. Other observations and interviews with PE teams should clarify these innovative proposals.

Finally it was observed that for some institutions, often in rural areas, the presence of a boarding school is a resource for innovative actions. Some vocational schools use the internship as a springboard to make a person healthy and have a fulfilling life. Here again interviews with PE and school life teams should clarify these initiatives.


This initial study has identified a set of proposals in relation to Teaching and Learning with the goal of Public Health for pupils VHS. Resistances and innovations in terms of proposals for implementation have been updated. This study highlights some results, the higher the educational context is subtly analyzed (and not only briefly described and sometimes not given) in the simplified project, more implementations of the teachers are specific and relevant to the population concerned. PAS chosen and / or particularly innovative actions emerge so, in tune with the needs and motivations of young students. Finally, although some sports remain common throughout the academy, certain actions make the health education in Aquitaine completely unique and the configuration of choices original. Each department is different from the perspective of the response to the national command. This is particularly the case in the Pyrenees Atlantiques whose offer is the most heterogeneous.
The “school effect” and influence of PE and school life personnel need to be studied in more depth. These further investigations should be able to identify specific actions such as awareness of the importance of breakfast, prevention against addictive behaviours, physical inactivity. Furthermore, interviews with school life staff and PE coordinators teams should have to be done; they “should allow us to better understand the differences observed in this first investigation. The motivations and catalysts of innovative practices remain to be analyzed through observations of lessons (Lafont, Rubert, Vincent Morin, 2008). Finally this first analysis was to highlight how the educational activities in health and health education are subject to many variables and a highly complex network of influence at different levels of the system: PE subject, type of school, geographical and institutional environment.


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